Fires in Alaska

Fires in Alaska

1 September 2004

Summary of fires and smoke emissions in the lastweek of August 2004

Smoke from Alaska Fires
The total acres burned in Alaska so far in 2004 have surpassed the previous record set in 1957, making this the worst year for Alaska fires since officials began keeping records. This year’s fires have been driven by unusually hot and parched weather and numerous lightning strikes. Fire activity in the state of Alaksa decreased towards the end of July, as the region began to receive some much-needed rain. However, fire activity started to increase again in mid-August. See Fires in Alaska.
In addition to smoke and other pollutants, fires produce carbon monoxide, which is measured by the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere ( MOPITT) instrument onboard NASA’s Terra satellite. The image above shows the concentrations of carbon monoxide at about 3 km (700 mbar) in the atmosphere from MOPITT data collected between August 10 and August 20, 2004. Red and yellow indicate high concentrations of carbon monoxide. The data reflect the large amount of pollution that is produced by fires in Alaska and Canada and is being transported towards the east and southeast.
Data courtesy of the NCAR and University of Toronto MOPITT Teams

Smoke from Alaska Fires
Dense gray smoke blanketed Alaska and the Bering Strait on August 21, 2004, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image. The smoke is pouring from widespread wildfires, which have been burning in Alaska’s interior and northern Canada since mid-June. On August 21, when this image was acquired, the Environmental Protection Agency had rated the air quality as hazardous for parts of Alaska.
The high-resolution image provided above has a resolution of 500 meters per pixel. The image is available in additional resolutions, including MODIS’ maximum resolution of 250 meters per pixel.
NASA image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

Smoke from Alaska Fires
Visibility approached zero in some parts of Alaska over the weekend of August 21, 2004, as thick smoke poured from wildfires burning in the state’s interior. The National Weather Service issued a dense smoke warning for the region surrounding Fairbanks, and Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality alert for the same region. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air quality in Fairbanks remains at hazardous levels. This true-color image shows how dense the smoke was on August 21, 2004. The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) on the Orbview-2 satellite observed the smoke arching across Alaska and over the Bering Strait. The smoke is so thick that the ground can’t be seen. Alaska’s intense fire season began in mid-June when lightning triggered a number of large fires.
Image provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

Fires In Alaska and Northern Canada
Numerous large wildfires were blazing across central Alaska (western two-thirds of image) and Yukon Territory, Canada (eastern third of image) on August 22, 2004. The image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite shows the incredibly thick blanket of smoke flowing like a vast river between the Brooks Range Mountains in the northern part of Alaska and the Alaska Range to the south. Red dots indicate the location of 1-square-kilometer pixels in which MODIS detected actively burning fires. According to reports from the Alaska Interagency Fire Center on August 23, there have been 616 fires this season, which have burned nearly 5.5 million acres.
NASA image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center

Source: Earthobservatory

Fire Weather & Fire Danger Information
The Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) is a contribution of “The Fire Behavior Research Work Unit”, Missoula (Montana USA). The broad area component of the Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) generates maps of selected fire weather and fire danger components.

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